Over the course of the 2022/23 season we will hear from a wide range of local people who have benefitted from Arsenal in the Community projects. Here we find out more about how Saoirse, 11, has grown as both a player and a person from taking part in the Football Plus programme.
Project: Premier League Football Plus
Participants since starting: 3,000
Weekly participants: 300
Sessions: Monday to Sunday
Available to: Female participants aged 6-16
About the participant: Saoirse is an 11-year-old from north west London who is enjoying being part of the Football Plus programme run by our Arsenal in the Community team in conjunction with the Premier League.
Participant Saoirse says…
“My brother first told me about Arsenal’s Football Plus session as he trains with Arsenal in the Community and my dad then told the coach there, James Warnock, that I wanted to play football. After a chat with James, he invited me to attend the sessions.
“The first time I arrived to play I admit I was nervous because I didn’t know anybody, but they were all very nice to me.
“I’ve always been interested in football, and I had to persuade my dad to find me a team to play with. My life wasn’t really good at the time – I was going through family issues and football gave me something positive to focus on. James told me about other projects that the Community department run and I liked playing at The Arsenal Hub, getting to watch matches then meeting the Arsenal Women players and having a photo with them. Now I’m taking part in a league run by Arsenal in the Community, which is the most exciting thing, making new friends and learning new skills. I also opted to join the boys development group, which was much more challenging because they felt more competitive. I had to prove to myself that I was good enough to be in their team.
“I’ve made friendships through the project with people that I probably would have never met. This is important because it affects how we play on the pitch and how we connect as a team.
“The Arsenal staff are nice, and James has been great in helping me develop new skills and giving me new opportunities in football, while Tan helps me stay confident and focused by always encouraging me. Training is always fun. Football has helped me to stay focused and find out what I want to do in life. It has helped me follow my dreams. I have learned how to communicate, as well as discipline, new football skills, standing up for myself and remaining focused. These skills have really helped me in my new school.
“The number of girls who actually wanted to play football and were able to play with boys was very surprising. It means a lot to me to be part of Arsenal because this is the team I want to play for in the future – playing for them right now is just the first step and it feels great. I would say to others if they had the opportunity to join something like this to take it, because it might not come again and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The project has given me more self-confidence and made me realise what I want in life.”
For more information email James Warnock at email@example.com
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